AFRICAN LIT­ER­ARY TI­TAN: CHINUA ACHEBE HON­OURED WORLD WIDE, GIVEN HIGH­EST NIGE­RIAN AWARD

Weekend Witness - - News -

CHINUA Achebe was born in Nigeria in 1930 and raised in the vil­lage of Ogidi, one of the first cen­tres of Angli­can mis­sion­ary work in east­ern Nigeria.

A grad­u­ate of Univer­sity Col­lege, Ibadan, his early ca­reer in ra­dio ended abruptly in 1966, when he left his post as di­rec­tor of ex­ter­nal broad­cast­ing in Nigeria dur­ing the na­tional up­heaval that led to the Bi­afran War.

Achebe joined the Bi­afran Min­istry of In­for­ma­tion and rep­re­sented Bi­afra on var­i­ous diplo­matic and fundrais­ing mis­sions.

He was later ap­pointed se­nior re­search fel­low at the Univer­sity of Nigeria, Nsukka, and be­gan lec­tur­ing widely abroad. For over 15 years, he was a pro­fes­sor of lan­guages and lit­er­a­ture at Bard Col­lege in New York and from 2009 un­til his death he was pro­fes­sor of Africana stud­ies at Brown Univer­sity in Rhode Is­land.

Dur­ing his ca­reer he wrote nov­els like Things Fall Apart, No Longer At Ease, Ar­row Of God and Anthills of the Sa­van­nah, which was short-listed for the Booker Prize; vol­umes of po­etry in­clud­ing Be­ware, Soul Brother and Christ­mas in Bi­afra, the short-story col­lec­tion Girls at War, and the chil­dren’s book How the Leop­ard Got His Claws.

He re­ceived numer­ous hon­ours, in­clud­ing the Honorary Fel­low­ship of the Amer­i­can Academy of Arts and Let­ters, as well as honorary doc­tor­ates from more than 30 col­leges and univer­si­ties, and Nigeria’s high­est award for in­tel­lec- tual achieve­ment, the Nige­rian Na­tional Merit Award.

While he was lauded world­wide, Achebe, who was con­fined to a wheel­chair fol­low­ing a car ac­ci­dent in 1990, never won the No­bel prize for lit­er­a­ture, un­like his fel­low Nige­rian Wole Soyinka, who be­came the first African No­bel lit­er­a­ture lau­re­ate in 1986.

— Arts Ed­i­tor/Sapa-AFP/Reuters.

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